ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have issued a reminder to motorists that deer and moose become more active in the fall. State officials say from October through December the animals are more likely to appear on public roadways. It is the breeding season for deer, and they are more visible in those months.
Citing data from the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, officials say 41% of crashes in 2021 between deer and vehicles happened during these three months.
“New York’s roadways are as beautiful as ever during the fall months, but it’s also when deer and moose are more active so motorists must drive with extra caution to help avoid a collision,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. “Watch for deer-crossing signs along roadways, as they indicate deer have been seen at that location and have collided with cars there. Those signs are meant to warn you to be extra cautious when driving through such locations.”
Officials say animals are especially active at dawn and dusk. These times represent higher risk, because visibility may be reduced, and commuter traffic may be heavy.
Precautions you can take to reduce the chance of a crash:
- Slow down when you see deer near the side of the road. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.
- If you see a deer run across the road, expect others to follow. Deer often travel in groups.
- Use your emergency flashers or flash your lights at other drivers to warn them if you see deer on or near the road.
- Be extra careful on roadways marked with deer crossing signs.
- Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, when animal movement is at its highest and visibility is reduced.
If you come across an animal on the road, officials say you should brake firmly but avoid swerving. Jerking the wheel can cause a collision with another car, a tree, a pole, or other objects. If you hit an animal, DEC says to stay away from it. A frightened, wounded deer or moose could use its powerful legs and sharp hooves to cause harm.
Other tips for if you strike or encounter an animal include:
- Move your car to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on your emergency lights. If leaving the car, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles. If a collision happens at dusk or dawn, remember that traffic visibility may be reduced.
- Call the police. Alert authorities if the animal is blocking traffic and creating a threat to other drivers. It the collision results in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage, you are required to fill out an official crash report and send it to DMV.
- Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch, or other safety hazards. If your car seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow truck.
Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York, and moose wander looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy moose sightings, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the road.
Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height—which puts their head and most of their body above vehicle headlights.